Catered / self catering Halls at Universities

(81 Posts)
BackforGood Fri 20-Sep-13 21:58:14

Been on my first University open day to day (to take ds, not thinking of going myself wink) and was stunned that to stay in the catered halls they showed us (there were a range of different ones, but just looking at the ones they showed us) cost £5,400 per year, but to stay in the self catered ones only "saved" you £900 at £4500 for the year.

Is this common ? We (and ds) had assumed he would be able to pay considerable less for self-catering, but I can't see the £900 'saving' covering his food for the 39 weeks they said they catered for (which I though odd in itself, as no Universities do as many weeks as schools, but that's another thought altogether).

Anyone mind sharing what they/their dcs are paying, and what they get for that (to be fair, these were en-suite rooms, but not in London or the SE)

BCBG Fri 20-Sep-13 22:07:21

Can't tell you off the top of my head, but having a bit of experience with DC 1 and now having DCs 2 and 3 going off, I would always always opt for catered in the first year otherwise the little buggers will drink their food money grin

Numberlock Fri 20-Sep-13 22:10:49

My son is off to bath tomorrow, got into his fourth choice of hall and paying £6200 a year which includes £55 per week of meals.

Don't get me started...

Tabby1963 Fri 20-Sep-13 22:12:46

I guess if it is catered for, they won't have kitchen/living room facilities, just a bedroom.

I would recommend self-catering, it is much more flexible for the students and they can relax in halls together while cooking and eating.

Candlefire Fri 20-Sep-13 22:16:10

The differential for DS between catered/non catered worked out at £20 per week. Unsurprisingly the food was awful and so he supplimented which cost us even more! That's the argument against catered.....they don't always eat it! I'm sure it varies between different universities, though.

IrisWildthyme Fri 20-Sep-13 22:22:54

guessing as I don't know what Uni bt I would expect a difference like that to be due to something like: catered accommodation is in halls of residence where there are no kitchens or common areas so the cleaning bills are massively lower. The self catering rooms may be saving the cost of the food but are also paying for extra floor space (a one-eighth share of a kitchen and dining area) plus a daily cleaning service, which is gobbling up a significant proportion of the saved food costs.

I'd go for the catered option - that way whatever happens he still gets to eat.

BackforGood Fri 20-Sep-13 22:26:04

Yes, well, apart from the nice socialising side of things - which I agree is a bonus - I can't see ds ever getting up in time for a "breakfast slot" in a canteen - he'll be sliding in to the first lectures as the lecturer starts speaking, but then by nighttime, he's starving, and has another meal then ~ I can't see that he could do this with a catered hall, which, in truth was most of the reasoning behind thinking self catering.
I am also concerned how they can feed growing teens sufficiently on what is effectively £23 per week, when obviously this isn't just for ingredients, but all associated costs (staff, fuel,etc) in running a canteen.
It's also then effectively throwing away what you've paid for, if you go out for someone's birthday, or are off campus for some reason, I presume. I was surprised in this day and age that they had to go to their own 'hall canteen' too, and didn't have some kind of pre-paid swipecard system that just allowed them to eat at any of the catering places on campus.

I've got a lot to learn I can see grin

BackforGood Fri 20-Sep-13 22:27:05

That's a good point about the kitchen space, Iris - I'd not thought of that.

OldRoan Fri 20-Sep-13 22:32:22

Lots of people on my course lived in a far-away halls that was catered. They missed dinner 3 times a week because of lectures, so ended up paying for that anyway.

BackforGood Fri 20-Sep-13 22:40:02

See, that's the sort of thing I mean OldRoan - it ties you to a particular time to eat, which doesn't really work with ds's "time blindness" wink
Just shock that there's not a bigger saving (ie, the money 'left' for him to buy his own food in).

Stravy Fri 20-Sep-13 22:42:59

At my Uni in the dark ages people missed loads of meals due to lectures or by just being out, but had nowhere to cook either.

DD1 was in catered, en-suite accommodation last year at a cost of £5k+ for a 30 week contract.

For this she got breakfast & dinner Mon-Fri and brunch & dinner at the weekend. She managed breakfast/brunch most days and was home for dinner pretty much every night. The flat she was in had decent kitchen facilities - fridge-freezer, oven, hob and microwave so she could cook on the very odd occasion that she didn't like the meal offered in the dining room. She was responsible for cleaning her own room and shower room but the communal areas were cleaned by the housekeeping staff. She was also provided with clean bedding every fortnight.

As a contrast she will be moving into a shared house next week. Rent is a third of the cost of halls. She'll miss her en-suite though grin

goinggetstough Fri 20-Sep-13 23:08:06

I can understand that catered halls don't suit everyone. However, my DCs enjoyed being in a catered Hall because:
- they have found it great to socialise in the dining hall when they eat. There are a greater variety of people and it is not restricted to your own flat.
- If you know you are going to miss a meal then you can order a packed meal.

I believe some universities although they say they are catered, it is a modern version where the student ID card is topped up with money and it can be used in a number of places across camp. So it is more flexible. I believe there is a Hall at Bath like this.

Even in catered halls there are kitchens but they are of course not fully kitted out as in a self catering flat. Finally I think there is only a small differentiation between catered and self catered rooms because the rooms are now all of a high standard as the universities rent them out in the vacations. The students therefore pay a contribution for these high standards IMO.

BackforGood Sat 21-Sep-13 08:23:37

Thanks for all opinions and experiences, ladies - please keep them coming. I never realised how many different options there were! smile

Jins Sat 21-Sep-13 09:26:03

DS1 is in his second week of self catered accommodation. Catered was never going to be an option as he's a pretty competent cook and with an aldi 10 minutes away he can do very well for far less than the £50 difference in hall fees.

I was in catered halls and missed more meals than I ate. With uni the price it is now we can't afford any waste anywhere along the line.

As a guideline he's spending between 15 and 20 a week to self cater and that includes a contribution to the communal Sunday lunch that they've decided to cook grin

BackforGood I went to my first open day last week at Nottingham. DS has been to several on his own or with college.
They have a mixture of catered or S/C and they do use a swipe card for some meals. We didn't bother to look at the accommodation though as he doesn't think it's in his top 3.
His plan is to check out accommodation options once he has offers.
He did look round when he went to Warwick and they only do S/C. The cost options revolve around whether you have en suite or shared bathroom. En-suite seems to cost about £30 a week more!! He thinks having his own w.c is more important than eating.hmm.
The contracts are for 30 or 39 weeks. If you get the shorter one you have to vacate your room in between terms.

BackforGood Sat 21-Sep-13 13:50:49

Thanks. Jins - see, that was what I was assuming, that the difference would be £50 a week, as per your example, and I know he could cook for himself for a LOT less that that each week. I now live in hope that what we saw wasn't typical.

Secret - Interesting about the en-suite. We took a friend of his from 6th form with us, and she felt that wherever she went, she wanted an en-suite. She'd grown up with one and was quite shuddery at the idea of sharing with perhaps 4,5, or 6 people horrified her. ds, OTOH, was quite happy, but he's spent a LOT of his life camping with Scouts, etc., and has no problems with the idea of bathroom sharing. If they knew him then I guess no-one else would want to share a bathroom with him though wink

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 21-Sep-13 13:59:16

I think course plays a factor to. Some very full on courses eg. Vet medicine and medicine lectures every day 9 to 5.30 apart from Wednesday being in catered halls is useful as you don't have to shop or use time cooking.
I know some Unis also had halls that were catered Mon to Fri and then self catering at weekends and some unis are fully catered (3meals a day), but can be taken in a variety of locations.

creamteas Sat 21-Sep-13 15:25:46

DS1 opted for SC halls and this worked out well. His friends in catered, seemed to spend as much on food as he did, despite paying for catering.

He also went for 39 week let, which although more expensive was really useful. Being able to stay at uni during the Easter vacation to revise for summer exams was important, as many of the books he needed were in the short-loan collection.

Also not having to lug all his possessions to and from uni each term (they couldn't leave anything in their rooms) was a bonus grin

summerswims Sat 21-Sep-13 15:38:18

useful thread. I worry that the self- catered kitchens will be thilthy and they won't want to prepare food there so will eat ready meals etc. Did ask a student on open day who had had a good experience of kitchens/cooking.

exoticfruits Sat 21-Sep-13 15:55:58

My DS had catered and lost a lot of weight! The food wasn't very good e.g. rice was 'one lump or two' and it never seemed to occur to him to fill up afterwards.

Tabby1963 Sat 21-Sep-13 20:41:03

My daughter was in halls last year, seven girls sharing self catering flat. Two bathrooms and a large kitchen/diner/sitting area. They kept it lovely and tidy, had a cleaning rota. The boys flat below them was another matter entirely. They went to a party there once... a midden lol!

Where they stayed were a number of cheap supermarkets plus I did an online shop for her once a term (delivered to the door).

BackforGood Sun 22-Sep-13 14:45:13

Thank you all for all your thoughts and experiences - lots to think about if he gets any offers.

OldRoan Sun 22-Sep-13 15:24:35

We had our self-catering flats inspected once or twice a term - not often enough to be a pain, but sufficiently frequent that the kitchen couldn't become too squalid.

In my experience the microwave was always the most disgusting piece of kitchen equipment because it was used by the students who were too busy/unthinking to cook properly and it never seemed to occur to them to clean it after use. Big incentive to cook properly!

fussychica Sun 22-Sep-13 15:57:28

DS was in self catered in 1st year in a mixed flat. It worked fine and he liked the flexibility. I was amazed he actually did cleaning and was one of the more fussy ones re cleanlinessshock
Despite having an en-suite at home he didn't want to spend the extra on one at Uni as he knew he wouldn't have one in a private rental in the second year and he was right it was the usual grotty student house. He has decided to go back into halls when he returns from his year abroad as it's just easier though probably more expensive.

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